Everyone has tried brainstorming at one point or the other. In general, brainstorming is done in a group but you can also do it by yourself if you’re running out of ideas. The way to do this is by not censoring yourself. Allow yourself to write down any ideas that come to mind. Don’t tell yourself, “that sounds stupid” or “no one’s going to want to hear that.”
When you brainstorm in a group, you can’t let criticism or censoring enter the brainstorming arena either. You have to try to be as positive as possible. Here are a few tips that will turn your brainstorming sessions into productive, creative fun:
1. Get a referee.
People might theoretically understand that you’re not supposed to pass negative comments in a brainstorming session. You’re just supposed to let the ideas flow. However, we’re all so used to criticizing various things that we don’t remember to hold those comments in when we’re supposed to. So the best thing is to get a referee—someone whose job it is to spot negativity and squelch it as and when it appears. A soon as a referee hears someone saying something negative, they’ll tell that person to cease and desist! This will remind the person what a brainstorming session is all about. You may not be able to get rid of negative comments entirely but you can decrease their frequency by doing this.
2. Increase diversity.
Although it’s possible to get good ideas from a homogenous group, it helps to have greater diversity within your group. Men and women have different experiences, so the ideas they come up with are also different. People from different minority groups and those who come from different cultures also have different ideas. Each one of these groups is going to be able to tell you what will work within their group. It also helps to get people from different but related professions to pitch into a brainstorming session.
3. Make a list of questions.
Often, you don’t need much to get a brainstorming session started. You just need to know your general topic or goal. But there are times when a brainstorming session just can’t seem to take off. So it helps to have a list of questions that broach the topic in different ways. Appeal to your group’s personal experiences. Or ask them if they’ve read anything new about the topic. Or you could even give everyone a piece of paper and ask them to brainstorm silently, coming up with their own ideas, without reference to anyone else’s.
4. Have fun.
Overall, you should keep in mind that a brainstorming session only works if it’s fun. If you have to keep forcing yourself or your team to come up with new ideas, you’ll find that the session isn’t that productive. So try to keep things light. Make this a fun event for your team members. Get them coffee and donuts (or soy lattes and healthy snacks, if you’re being calorie conscious.) Put on some soft music in the background. Begin with a little bit of chit-chat. Roll up your sleeves and keep things informal. Rather than squeezing the ideas out of their brains, your team should find that there’s a natural flow of thought.
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This article is published by Will Sherwood | The Sherwood Group |Website Design | Graphic Design | Marketing Communications: The Sherwood Group has over 30 years of experience working with all sorts of companies, small and large. Our clients range from entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 firms, in nearly every business sector, from across the street to around the world (and yes, even Europe, China, and South America). Our goal is to create advertising, graphic design, website design, and marketing communication that still looks fresh and relevant 10-15 years later. Our mission is to stir your imagination and leave your competition shaken and wondering, Now what do we do?” We are located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
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